WALKING IN MEMPHIS: 1st Lt. Maryna Williams deployed to Memphis as the lead for FAST 22, to assist with the community vaccination mission there. She said she has strengthened her skills in organizing, managing and communicating through the experience.
by 1st Lt. Christina Winters
SAN ANTONIO (July 21, 2021)—In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC) has deployed over 20 teams throughout the nation in support of federal vaccination efforts.
These Forward Assessment Sustainment Teams (FAST) have been responsible for providing multi- component logistical support to military medical service providers assisting at state-run community vaccination centers in more than 20 different states and territories, allowing the providers to focus on their mission.
The effectiveness of the 4th ESC FAST support efforts is largely due to the hard work and dedication of the first-line leaders and Soldiers who have been deployed to vaccination sites since the beginning of the pandemic response.
One such leader, 1st Lt. Earnisa Brent, is the officer in charge of the FAST group in St. Louis, Missouri, known as FAST 7–St. Louis. Teamed with two Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade at Fort Riley, Brent supported 140 Navy medical service providers at the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis. FAST 7–St. Louis is a Type 2 vaccination team, which can administer up to 3,000 vaccines a day, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Among other responsibilities, Brent manages the implementation of government contracts and logistical support for the service members on the ground in St. Louis. Along with her team, she ensures that the military medical providers have lodging, meals and transportation provided. This contributes to mission success.
Brent said that she volunteered for the mission to get more experience and to do something that was challenging. “When I first got into ROTC, I thought that being a leader would mean making decisions in the heat of the moment, but what I learned is that everything is planned, pre-planned, and then you execute,” Brent said.
Another first-line leader, 1st Lt. Maryna Williams was first deployed to Medford, Oregon, as the officer in charge of FAST 27. She later deployed to Memphis as the lead for FAST 22, to assist with the community vaccination mission there. With the help of Staff Sgt. Corey Jackson and Staff Sgt. Joseph Gomez, Williams supports Marine Corps and Navy personnel assisting at the community vaccination center at the Pipkin Building near Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Before she volunteered for the COVID-19 federal response mission, Williams was a platoon leader with the 217th Transportation Company in San Antonio. She said she volunteered for the mission because she wanted to build her skills in organizing, managing and communicating. She is confident that she has since acquired those skills and she encourages other junior officers to do the same.
“Before they sent us out, they put us through these courses, but it’s nothing like being on [the] ground,” Williams said. “I’ve worked with the Marines more closely, Sailors, Coast Guard, and the National Guard.”
Brent offered advice for other junior leaders in positions of authority. “Network and soak up as much information as you can,” she said. “Regardless of it not being pertinent to the mission you’re on right now, you can use it somewhere else.”
The 4th ESC is a subordinate command of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command. Headquartered in Belle Chase, Louisiana, the 377th is a multifunctional headquarters that has been the sustainment lead for the DOD COVID response since operations began in March 2020.